The Arab-Israeli conflict seems to be one without end. All the “big-powers” have tried to resolve it without much success. Why? Because there no real change of mind. The majority of Arabs would like that Israel cease to exist, and most Jews, whether they live in Israel or not, see Israel’s existence as existential. What can be done?
Inventing the future has been part of what I have been doing since I was a student of architecture. I call it “pragmatic idealism.” I shoot for the feasible best and work its development with a pencil and an eraser in-tandem. Discovery is in the unfolding. While navigating towards an objective, ideas develop that would not have been thought without the navigation towards a goal. To do that, one needs time. In this case, given the present level of distrust, mutual grievances and asymmetrical hatred, at least three generations.
A 100-year ceasefire is a framework. It is critical to establish a number of goals to be worked out within it based on performance. Without it, effective negotiations are impossible. The agreement is to be based on a reward-punishment method to be monitored and policed by a third neutral party (possibly of Supreme Court judges.) For every year of effective ceasefire, the total of 100 years will be reduced by one year. For any year of ceasefire violation, the contract will be extended by one year. In other words, the agreement may be as short as 50 years and as long as 200 years, based on performance.
The territorial resolution must be regional and based on the concept of a condominium: a unit of common interest – water, security, access – and individual sovereignties. The boundaries of such a condominium (maybe to be called “Eastern Mediterranean Union”) shall include present-time Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula and Lebanon. Condominium members should chose to call themselves as they wish.
For the condominium to succeed, it must be based on an agreed-upon “Education Charter” and a “Master Plan of Construction and Economic Development,” to be adjusted periodically, taking into considerations changes in science and technology.
The Education Charter shall be mandatory to all members, must be separated from political, ideological and religious dogma and should be geared towards scientific, technological and artistic development. Distinctive cultural education, Arab and Jewish, must be inclusive of mutual knowledge and be based on respect and tolerance of the differences.
Construction can be divided into three categories: 1. Interdependent, which shall include the use and development of water, energy, mobility and industrial production; 2. Joint work on common-goal projects; 3. International redevelopment, which may include a bullet train around the Mediterranean Sea, freeways linking Africa, the Persian Gulf and Eastern Europe through the region, and he development of artificial islands accommodating millions of residents and inclusive of deep-water ports and international airports.
One hundred year agreements are not common, but two precedents have been successful: the Panama Canal and Hong Kong. In 1904 the United States took over the canal project from France and it was officially opened in 1914. The US continued to control the Panama Canal Zone until the 1977. After a period of joint American–Panamanian control, the canal was taken over by the Panamanian government in 1999.
The transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China took place on July of 1997. It marked the expiration of British rule in Hong Kong at the termination of a 99-year lease agreed upon in 1898. The negotiation was long and complicated, but the agreement was executed.
Any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict needs to address cultural, territorial and economic differences. The road to real peace can go through a 100-year ceasefire marked by benchmarks of achievements that are rewarded or by violations that are punished. Ultimately, human interaction between former enemies shall become the real glue of social, cultural and economic development.